‘Whatever they need’: Republican candidates focus on support for Israel… | news report

In the first debate since war broke out in the Middle East, candidates in the third Republican presidential primary debate spent more than an hour addressing the conflict and coming to Israel’s defense.

Israel has become a campaign flashpoint over the past month, with Republican presidential candidates mostly looking to outdo their rivals on demonstration support for the Jewish state.

For many evangelical voters, “Israel is non-negotiable. There is reflexive support for Israel,” said Mark Caleb Smith, a political science professor at Cedarville University. Christianity today. “So I would be surprised if that fractured.”

The United States must “support Israel with whatever it needs, whenever it needs it,” said former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who is vying for second place on the list. center. Haley argued that Israel is a strategic ally in the region for the United States when it comes to countering Iran’s influence and is the “tip of the spear when it comes to Islamic terrorism.”

Throughout her campaign, Haley has been intentional about courting prominent Christian Zionists. Her presidential campaign launch in February featured Texas megachurch pastor and televangelist John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, who gave an invocation prayer. Hagee endorsed Trump in 2016, but has yet to endorse a candidate this cycle. His group has sent more than a million dollars in aid to Israel following the October 7 attack.

On Wednesday, Haley distanced herself from the Biden administration’s recent calls for a humanitarian solution. pause in combat. “The last thing we need to do is tell Israel what to do,” she said. “The only thing we should do is support them in eliminating Hamas.”

Haley also criticized university administrators for not taking anti-Semitism seriously. “If the KKK were doing this, all the college presidents would be up in arms,” ​​she said. “Anti-Semitism is no different: it is just as bad as racism.”

Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical Jew involved in the Trump administration’s Abraham Accords efforts and founder of The Joshua Fund, a pro-Israel Christian group, aware in response to Haley’s line that “all candidates should say this.”

Many American evangelicals cite theological reasons to support Israel’s right to its land and to defend itself. in 2017 Lifeway Research Survey, more than half of evangelicals said the Bible has shaped their views on Israel, and only 7 percent say elected officials influence their stance. At the time, 31 percent said the United States does enough to help Israel and another 24 percent wanted to see more support.

Discussing international affairs may be a new impetus for Haley. She received praise from political analysts after the debate for the ease with which she leaned into her foreign policy skills.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has at times expressed a more isolationist bent when it comes to U.S. involvement abroad, took a strident tone when it comes to the conflict, calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to to “finish the job.” once and for all with these butchers, Hamas.”

DeSantis also stressed that his support for Israel was more than just rhetoric. He is authorized the state of Florida to bring home hundreds of Americans evacuated from Israel; tidy state universities for dissolve chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine, a pro-Palestinian student organization; and sent cargo planes with drones, bulletproof vests and other unspecified quantities of weapons and ammunition to Israel.

He said he would continue the crackdown on universities that receive federal funds and have cases of anti-Semitism: “We are not going to use tax money to fund jihad,” he said. He also mocked the Biden administration for its recently released initiative to counter Islamophobia.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, the most staunchly isolationist voice on stage, said Israel should defend itself but that the United States must be “careful to avoid making the mistakes of the neoconservative establishment of the past,” and criticized US involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. .

Ramaswamy denounced anti-Semitism, but said students at pro-Palestinian rallies were uninformed: “they have no idea what the hell they are talking about.” He opposed any form of censorship of student activities, saying it “creates a worse vulnerability.”

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said his message to Israel was that “America is here, no matter what you need.” He was the only candidate asked about Islamophobia. Christie said he had addressed hate crimes against Jewish and Muslim Americans as a federal prosecutor in his state.

“Wipe Hamas off the map,” said Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina. “You can’t negotiate with evil.”

On social media, Scott noted that there was guest a group of Jewish students to attend the debate. And during the debate, he said universities that don’t do enough to combat anti-Semitism should lose federal funding. He also called for students here in the United States on visas to be deported if they are found to be “encouraging Jewish genocide.”

Scott also continued to make the most obvious pitches to conservative religious voters and referenced the Bible in both his opening and closing statements. “The loss of faith in this nation is part of the erosion we see every day,” he said at the start of the debate. “It is restoring faith, restoring Christian values ​​that will help this nation become this city on a hill again. When Ronald Reagan talked about a city on a hill, he was coming from Matthew 5.”

The reference to one of the themes of reagan The presidency comes from Matthew 5:14, “You are the light of the world. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (New King James Version).

At the close of the debate, Scott said: “I don’t want to win the battle against Joe Biden. “I want to win the war for conservative Christian values.”

The party’s favorite in the debate, former President Donald Trump, was absent again. However, at a rally last month, Trump attempted to highlight his record in the Middle East. saying“I can’t imagine how anyone who is Jewish or anyone who loves Israel (and, frankly, evangelicals just love Israel) I can’t imagine anyone voting Democrat.”

On Wednesday, Trump hosted a large political rally in Hialeah, a majority-Latino city outside Miami. As part of your strategy To make inroads among Latino voters, Trump sought to court religious voters by attacking and accusing Biden, a lifelong Catholic, and the Democratic Party of going “after Catholics.”

“I must say that any Catholic or Christian who votes for a Democrat is a fool,” he added.

The fourth Republican presidential primary debate will take place on December 6 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

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